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Chris Billam-Smith wins thunderous battle with Isaac Chamberlain to defend European and Commonwealth titles

Chris Billam-Smith and Isaac Chamberlain push themselves to the limit in European and Commonwealth title fight as Billam-Smith triumphs in his Bournemouth hometown; "I'll be back," says Chamberlain after epic war

Image: Chris Billam-Smith and Isaac Chamberlain had an epic brawl in Bournemouth (Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER)

Chris Billam-Smith defended his European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles in a thunderous battle with Isaac Chamberlain in his Bournemouth hometown on Saturday.

The roar that rose from the crowd when Billam-Smith entered the Bournemouth International Centre was simply deafening. The champion marched to the ring with serious intent even as pyrotechnics and the arena exploded around him.

He began with firm jabs, drilling them through Chamberlain's guard. Those shots snagged the Londoner and Billam-Smith backed them up with his cross. He bullied Chamberlain onto the ropes and worked up close.

Chamberlain had to open up with left hooks to try to find a response, firing back under pressure. But Billam-Smith finished that first round with a sudden smile on his face.

Image: Billam-Smith (right) drives forward up close. (Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER)

Billam-Smith took that momentum into the second round. Even when Chamberlain landed a fine left hook to the body, Billam-Smith clubbed a left hook into his head. Chamberlain scrambled away from the ropes and caught Billam-Smith with a sudden strike, forcing him to retreat. But before the end of the round the champion was boring forward again, hitting Chamberlain back into the ropes.

They still fought at pace into the third but it was Billam-Smith who broke through with a hard left hook and a salvo of punches, all sapping Chamberlain's energy.

He kept Chamberlain on the back foot, until, in the fifth round, Chamberlain managed to hold his ground. The Londoner managed to sneak his right through and Billam-Smith finished the round looking weary.

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As Billam-Smith mauled forward in the seventh, Chamberlain uncorked his left hook. Encouraged, he attacked with more head shots. His right uppercut streaked through Billam-Smith's defences, jolting his head. Chamberlain's left eye was swelling. He had absorbed punishing shots but he was taking heart, reeling off jabs even as his left eye began to close.

In the eighth, Chamberlain lanced an excellent right cross in and they finished the round trading viciously with one another.

The fight has been an intense physical battle. Throughout Billam-Smith looked to muscle his way forward but Chamberlain's confidence grew as he withstood the power-punches and earned himself space to work. He was able, more and more, to turn Billam-Smith onto the ropes or trap him in a corner.

But Billam-Smith continued to drill shots into his trunk and he unloaded full bodied punches in the 10th round to get the crowd on their feet cheering for him once again.

Image: Chamberlain stands his ground and begins to fire straight shots through

Both men were tiring going into the final two rounds. Wearily Billam-Smith kept on trudging on to the inside. Yet he could still unearth thunderous punches, clattering the ribs and then driving a three-punch blast into the head. He was first to make it up off his stool for the last round too and raised his arms again to his crowd.

They both worked desperately hard, looking for a grandstand finish. Billam-Smith rattled hooks against Chamberlain's head and, off the ropes, blasted his right into Chamberlain's jaw to turn his head for a moment.

But Chamberlain fought back, taking Billam-Smith to the ropes, rocking him with a left hook and prompting both to swing wildly for the last seconds before the last bell brought their battle to an end.

The decision was unanimous, all three judges had Billam-Smith a 117-111 victor.

"The corner was incredible," the defending champion said afterwards. "They knew exactly the right thing to say every time.

"What an unbelievable fight. Isaac's a warrior, I knew he was.

"I knew when to just ease off and go again, and give him a little bit of success, and then I took it away from him and broke his heart."

That losing effort came in Chamberlain's first 12-round fight. "It wasn't my night. A lot of ring-rust. I haven't done 12 rounds before. But I'll get back in the gym as soon as possible," he said.

"This is my first ever 12-rounder, so I will be back."

He'll be back, and he also wants a rematch. "100 per cent," Chamberlain said.

Nelson: A fight of the year contender

Johnny Nelson says that instant cruiserweight classic was a fight of the year contender.

"That's got to be the fight of the year so far, because what these guys showed in pure heart and determination," Nelson said.

"Chris Billam-Smith's game-plan worked. He got out from the off to fight his fight. So when you get into that, if you're not smart and experienced enough to get out of that mindset and box instead of bashing, then it's very hard to do.

"And Chris is a tough, tough cookie. I've seen Isaac in fights like that before to the end, when he's digging in deep. He showed so much heart and spirit, but the inactivity just didn't work for him.

"Chris' tactics worked perfectly for him, but what a fight. The crowd on their feet. It was exhausting watching it!"

The biggest fight in the history of women's boxing - Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall - is live on Sky Sports on Saturday, September 10. Be part of history and buy tickets for the London showdown here.

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